Navarrete Drops Villa Twice; Rolls on to Become Two-Division Champion

LAS VEGAS (October 10, 2020) — Top Rank’s impressive October schedule rolled into its second week with a Featherweight clash for the vacant WBO championship. Former Super Bantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete made his arrival on the division’s big stage after just one fight at the new weight in Mexico in June. Standing in front of Navarrete becoming a two-division champion, 23-year old Ruben Villa – an unbeaten southpaw from Salinas, California.

Villa’s motivation was to finally capitalize on some impressive amateur wins and realize the dream of becoming a world champion. The match-up pitted the rangy Navarrete’s power and volume punching attack against the polished boxing skills of Villa (18-1, 5 KOs).

The suspense of which style would prevail took a big dip quickly. After a fairly decent effort in the first, Villa found himself down on the canvas after Navarrete (32-1, 27 KOs) settled down for a moment to step in and drop Villa with a flush left uppercut. Villa made it out of the first round, attempted to score with the former champion, but ran into more trouble three rounds later. Navarrete scored a second knockdown with a left hand just under the round’s final minute. The fight appeared to be slipping away as Navarrete seized full control of the fight, but Villa regrouped and managed to box his way to the final bell. The underdog had some decent moments but consistent work with his right jab wasn’t enough to overcome the pair of knockdowns.

Navarrete won his 32nd victory and added his second title displaying a mixture of his strengths to earn scorecards of 114-112, 114-112 and 115-111.

Navarrete opened the bout taking full advantage of his length. He bounced around from the far outside striking with random well-timed attacks. Villa stood his ground and shot his jab while assessing Navarrete’s movement. After early the early success with distance and pace, Navarrete changed up and moved to just outside of Villa’s right foot to shoot an uppercut that dropped Villa with around 25 seconds to go. The Salinas native beat the count and made it out of the round.

Navarrete’s pace picked up in the second round. He started attacking with both hands. Villa gradually settled into his rhythm while trying to figure out the best range for him, as well as work on timing Navarrete’s awkwardness. The two traded some shots inside to close the round.

Villa stepped around Navarrete’s lunging punches throughout the third frame. He moved well and jabbed when possible. He appeared to find a way to be effective, but it would require him to be sharp for as long as Navarrete was aggressive.

Navarrete spent some time in the southpaw stance early in the fourth round. He returned to his conventional stance and at the 0:53 he landed a left hand that dropped Villa for the second time. Once the fight resumed, Navarrete pursued Villa as the Californian recovered and again survived to the next round.

In the subsequent round Navarrete forced the issue at the top of the round. Villa stayed on the move looking to regain his legs. Navarrete tracked the southpaw, throwing a variety of long shots but the big openings eluded him.

Villa worked his right jab in round six. Over the final minute Navarrete was back stalking Villa and throwing powerful punches with both hands.

The former champion fought behind his jab to open the seventh round – jabs upstairs as well as to the body of the shorter man. He moved in and out and mixed in some foot feints. Villa handled the pressure but doing so minimized his own offensive attack.

In the eighth round little changed. The majority of Villa’s offense came from his right jab. These shots couldn’t alter the course of the fight, but Navarrete’s pursuit and movement rarely left him vulnerable to Villa’s power hand.

Navarrete scored with some threatening short flurries at the end of the ninth round. Going into the final quarter of the fight, Villa appeared to need all three rounds, and possibly a knockdown to have a shot. Villa landed sparsely with meaningful shots from his left hand. He connected with a good right hook to Navarrete’s body. Navarrete did enough to avoid any lapses in focus, but Villa’s power never posed a real threat to pull off the upset. The scores indicate that Villa’s effort, to the final bell, nearly paid off with a draw.

After the victory Navarrete shared his thoughts on his next moves in the new division.

Navarrete said, “I knew that Villa was a fighter that moved a lot, and I knew that he was going to move even more once he felt my power. I didn’t get the knockout, but I got the victory.

“I’m very happy with this championship. It’s a reflection of all the sacrifices and all the hard work I put in. I conquered my second weight class because of all that hard work.

“I have my sights set on all the world champions at 126. I would love to face {Josh} Warrington. I think that our styles will make for a great fight.”

All photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank 

RL Woodson

I'm all over the place, literally. Click on something and I'll explain it all. A Tribe Called Quest fan, Good Will Hunting, HTTR and Michigan athletics... #DLTCYO

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